UN conference, official's message mark first World Down Syndrome Day
Published: March 23, 2012
UNITED NATIONS (CNS) -- A daylong conference at the United Nations and a message from the U.N. secretary-general marked the first international observance of World Down Syndrome Day March 21. "For too long, persons with Down syndrome, including children, have been left on the margins of society," said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "In many countries, they continue to face stigma and discrimination as well as legal, attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their participation in their communities." World Down Syndrome Day was established last year through a resolution endorsed by 78 member states of the U.N. It is to be observed each March 21 beginning in 2012. The resolution recognized "the inherent dignity, worth and valuable contributions of persons with intellectual disabilities as promoters of the well-being and diversity of their communities, and the importance of their individual autonomy and independence, including the freedom to make their own choices." The observance of World Down Syndrome Day came as estimates of the number of children aborted because of prenatal diagnosis of the genetic chromosomal disorder reached more than 90 percent. An Oregon couple, Deborah and Ariel Levy, recently won $2.9 million in a "wrongful birth" lawsuit because their daughter has Down syndrome, which was not diagnosed before her birth despite prenatal testing. To mark the day and combat negative attitudes toward Down syndrome, the International Down Syndrome Coalition for Life launched a video showing the responses of parents of Down syndrome children when asked what they would tell themselves if they could go back to before they adopted or gave birth to their child. The responses included: "Don't let the fear of her future steal the joy out of today," "He will be the easiest of the three," "You will be a better person," "Different does not mean less," "He will steal your heart" and "What you think is your greatest fear will be your greatest blessing."
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